Friday, December 30, 2011

25 Years Later

The Regina Pats host the Broncos tonight and will be commemorating the tragic day when four Swift Current players lost their lives in a bus crash on December 30th 1986. Trent Kresse, Chris Mantyka, Brent Ruff and Scott Kruger lost their lives when the team bus was travelling to Regina for a game with the Pats. There was a snowstorm and the driver lost control and hit an overpass.

At tonight's game Regina will host a pregame ceremony which will include players from both the 1986/87 Pats and Broncos teams. In attendance from the Broncos will be Tim Tisdale. Tim was in his rookie season with the Broncos during the 1986-87 season and was on the bus that fateful night. He went on to play two more seasons with Swift Current before embarking on a pro and coaching career that included a head coaching stint with the Pats in 1999-2000. Representing the Regina Pats will be Darren McKechnie. Darren was 19 years old and in his first year with the Regina Pats during the 1986-87 season. He went on to play another season with the blue and white in 1987-88.

I had a chance to talk with the current Head Coach and GM of the Broncos Mark Lamb this morning and here's a little of what he had to say.

"Obviously you have memories when its brought up on a day like this, I wasn't around here that day but I have connections with the families, the Kruger family especially. You always think back on those kids, the good times that you've had, the funny times that you've had. Then you look at the day and the impact it will have on some people and its kind of weird, I'm sitting in my office after coming into the rink today and you know you forget about it a little bit and then its brought up and its a very icy day its kind of snowy and road conditions are bad. So its Something that a guy, the memories you look back and its something everyone will be careful about."

On the inpact it had on the community.

"I really don't have that systematical impact because I was gone playing pro hockey when I got the phone call. I'm really sure that the community was, just like any other deaths that are devastating, the community would be very shaken. The whole hockey world was shaken, when I was away playing pro hockey and it affected whole hockey world. That's how small the world is and how small the hockey community is but it was just devastation. Especially when the young guys looking forward to their career in hockey and it got cut short like that."

"Its unbelievable, you can talk about how quick time goes, it seems just like yesterday it happened or a year ago and its 25 years. I think you can use that as a positive, you know going into tonight's game these guys all had dreams and we can still fulfill those dreams and move on."

Of everything Mark said these two sentences really show how close knit the people in hockey are. While Trent Kresse, Chris Mantyka, Brent Ruff and Scott Kruger are a part of every time the Broncos take the ice, tonight both Swift Current and the Pats will be playing for them.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


The entire Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club extends their deepest sympathy to the family of Roughrider great Gene Wlasiuk, who passed away on Tuesday.

Wlasiuk spent nine seasons with the Roughriders from 1959-1967 after playing his first two CFL seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Wlasiuk played in the Riders defensive backfield while also returning punts. His 549 punt returns remain at the top of the Riders all-time list and his 3,296 punt return yards are good for second all-time. His return prowess was all achieved before blocking was allowed on punt returns.

Wlasiuk played a total of 132 games for the Green and White and finished with 27 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries. He was also a key member of the Riders first Grey Cup championship in 1966.

To honor his outstanding accomplishments with the Football Club, Wlasiuk was enshrined in the Saskatchewan Roughrider Plaza of Honor in 1995. 


The Pats fell in overtime last night in Brandon 3-2. Brenden Walker scored twice in the first period to give the Wheat Kings a 2-0 lead but Lane Schiedl scored with 37 second left in the period and it was 2-1 after 1. After a scoreless second Schiedl got his second of the night with under 5 minutes left in the third period and after regulation it was all tied at 2's. In the extra frame Ryley Miller won it for Brandon a minute 23 in and Walker got an assist on the goal for a three point night.

That's a tough loss but I think when you look at it its a huge point for the Pats. Having already won in Brandon earlier this month, to take 3 of 4 points in a place where they hadn't won in over 3 years is huge. The coaching staff weren't exactly pleased with the play of the guys, they wanted a sharper game coming out of the Christmas break but I think its can be expected to have a little drop off after being out of game action for 10 days.

I talked with assistant coach Malcolm Cameron after practise today and when I asked him about the game he said. "its always sloppy hockey or tends to be when you have a long lay off like that so I think both sets of coaches, the Wheat Kings and us are happy with the effort but the rust  obviously was evident out there, both teams were sloppy and the passes weren't all that crisp. It will take a couple good hard practises and a couple games to get back into that same mentality we were in before the break"

The Pats had struggled in Brandon for a long time before this season but this year its changed a little bit. Cameron said that they are pleased with what they've been able to do against  them thus far in the season.

"I think if anybody asked us would you take 3 of 4 points in the 2011 part of the season in Brandon we would take it for sure. With everybody scrambling for points in the next 35-36 games you don't ever want to leave a building empty handed. So it was nice even though we didn't have our best last night that we were able to find away to get out of there with something."

Lane Schiedl scored both Regina goals last night and he said today it was a big point for the team.

"It was big, Brandon is a tough building to go into and win so any points we can get out of there is huge. Lots to build on I mean we got 3 of 4 points in their building so far so if we can continue that it would be great"

On getting the legs back after the break.

"Sticking to our systems and keeping it simple, not trying to do more than we can and just getting engaged a little earlier and just get yourself into it, after a lay off just trying to get back into the groove."

Looking forward to the second half the Pats have 22 of their 35 home games coming up including 9 at the Brandt Centre in the month of January. Assistant coach Malcolm Cameron said today its a key time in the season for the team.

"Its going to be nice its no question, we've never really gotten a chance to settle in to a rhythm here at home all season. It seems we play at home for 1 or 2 and then bam were gone for 3 or 4 on the road. I think its going to be real good for our hockey club to settle in and make this our fortress for the next 3 months. Obviously we've got to put some wins up, its great to have the home games but at the end of the day you've got to start banking some points at home."

The Pats play at home to the Swift Current Broncos tomorrow night at 7 o'clock. They haven't played since the opening game of the season when the Pats won 5-1 at home. Then Sunday they welcome the Edmonton Oil Kings for an afternoon affair. The Pats won in Edmonton on the last game before the Christmas break 6-5 on a last second goal by Jordan Weal so certainly they will be coming here with some vengeance. As always you can catch all the action on 620 CKRM with the voice of the Regina Pats Dan Plaster.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Former Pat Tyson Sievert Passes

The Regina Pats Hockey Club would like to extend our sincere condolences to the friends and family of former Regina Pats player Tyson Sievert who tragically passed away late last night.

After starting his Western Hockey League career with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Saskatoon Blades, Tyson played with the Pats for the 2005-06 season.

Regina Pats President, Brent Parker “This is another tragedy to add to a long list over the past few months. We enjoyed the time that Tyson spent in our organization, he was just a good honest hard working Saskatchewan kid. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, Dale and Jackie and their family during this difficult time.”

Regina Pats General Manager, Chad Lang “We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Tyson.  He was a great kid and a tremendous teammate. He competed hard and was willing to do whatever it took to help the team achieve its goals both on and off the ice.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, Dale and Jackie and their entire family. We all will deeply miss Tyson.”

Monday, December 26, 2011

Canada 8 Finland 1

Well team Canada started off the 2012 World Junior Championship with a bang. I was a little concerned after the showing they had against Sweden even though they did play one good period. My biggest concern was goal tending from Mark Visentin who let in some soft ones in his 30 minutes or so of play. Scott Wedgewood came in and played very well making some good saves yet Head Coach Don Hay said afterwards that Visentin was the guy to start going forward. It seems he made the right  decision as Mark played well in Canada's win over the Fins. Visentin responded well to the heat put on him buy the backup Wedgewood making some good saves, it helped that Canada scored early and often. I guess its good to know that if Visentin does falter at any point Wedgewood is a capable replacement.

How about Mark Stone? he played an outstanding game finishing with 3 goals. I was impressed with his ability to get open and finish the puck, not that I expected anything less but that line along with Huberdeau and Strome were dominant all game long. The power play was lethal and the penalty kill did its job as the Canadians played 60 minutes of good hockey for the convincing 8-1 win.

Any doubts that I had coming in were all but silenced as the Fins are usually a competitive team but Canada looked head and shoulders above in this one.

Next action is Wednesday versus the Czechs. You can catch all the action on 620 CKRM with our own Rod Pedersen calling the action.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Luca Congi on the Sportscage

After the news came down yesterday that the Saskatchewan Roughriders released punter/place kicker Luca Congi he was kind enough to respond to my emails and make an appearance with Mitchell Blair and Kelly Remple on the Sportscage this evening on 620 CKRM. Here's an almost word for word account of what he had to say from home in Ontario. (I cant type as fast as he talks to I may miss a few words but you'll get the jist.)

Q: Did you see this coming?

I mean, I had an incling that something would happen whether it was a pay but or a release because I was healthy and not playing, so I started to think that it was a possibility.

Q: Were you healthy this year?

I was more than ready to go, felt I was stringer than I was before my injury. I worked out hard in the off season and I learned a lot about rehab and working out and so I was able to progress further than I ever had. I was more than ready but it just didn't work out.

Q: Is it sort of surreal that after one play this is where you are?

It is, I never thought that when my injury happened I never thought I would never kick again for the Riders. I just wanted to get healthy and get back on the field, to put the work in to get back to playing football. But things happen that you cant control and you have to roll with the punches. So I'm just getting ready for what comes next.

Q: So what happens next?

Its my agents job to search for the next opportunity for me. I'm just taking this time to think about things and spend time with my family for the holidays.

Q: In terms of timing is it hard with the holidays or does it matter?

No, Brenden Taman was very up front and good to me throughout the off season. If the Riders decide to go in a different direction that's their decision but as a player its nice to have more time to find a new situation. If they hadn't released me until later on than it would be a lot harder to find a new team because if they needed a kicker they may have already brought someone in. The timing doesn't matter its always a tough pill to swallow.

Q; Have you looked at teams that may need your services AKA WPG CGY or TOR?

Truthfully no, I took the news yesterday and want to take some time. When I'm ready to move on I will. In the end its my agents job to find out who's interested and who's not.

Q: Most Memorable kick besides in the 2007 Grey Cup?

So many great moments..........probably my first year when i kicked the game winner against the Allouettes, memorable because it was my first year. There's a lot of them.

Q; Last words?

I have received so much incredible support. I really felt like I was apart of the family and Regina was my second home. I loved every minute wearing the Green and White and being apart of this incredible tradition. I loved running out of the tunnel at Mosaic Stadium, it took my breath away every time and I will never forget that feeling. I loved every minute and every fan.


It was emotional at times for Luca who got a little choked up when Scruffy asked him about his most memorable kick. He obviously loved being here just as much as the fans loved having him. But thus is professional sport and though its hard to see him go, I have no question in my mind that he will thrive somewhere else. Another team will be getting a very good kicker and even more than that, a very good person.


The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that they have signed non-import kicker/punter Chris Bodnar to the roster. Financial details of the signing were not released.

Bodnar (5’11 – 190 lbs) played for the University of Regina Rams the last two seasons. In January 2011, he signed with the Edmonton Eskimos but was released in June at which time he returned to the Rams for a stellar season. In seven games he had 66 punts for 2,944 yards and a CIS leading 44.6 yard average. He was also named a CIS first team All-Canadian.

In 2010, he was named a Canada West all-star after leading Canada West with an average of 41.0 yards per punt. The 23 year old hit 12 of his 18 field goal attempts, was named the Canada West Special Teams Player of the Week twice.

Prior to joining the Rams Bodnar played for the Saskatoon Hilltops where he was named a CJFL All-Canadian in both 2009 and 2008. In the two years previous to that Bodnar played both football and basketball for the University of Saskatchewan.

*The Riders also announced they have released non-import offensive lineman George Hudson

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pats Win 2 of 3 on Alberta Road Trip

The Pats played their final three games before the Christmas break on Friday Saturday and Sunday. Friday they went into the Saddle dome in Calgary and skated to a 3-2 victory over the Hitmen. The game was televised on national television and the Pats played very well anchored by goaltender Matt Hewitt. Calgary out shot Regina 34-16 in the game and probably could have scored at least 4 more goals but Hewitt stood on his head all game long including two saves in the last minute of play to seal the road victory. Jordan Weal, Lane Scheidl, and Matt Marantz scored for the Pats. A huge win for the club who were tied with the Hitmen going in for the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference.

Saturday the team travelled to Red Deer to face the Rebels. Coming in the Rebels had lost 14 of their last 15 games but the Pats gave up two goals early in the second period and that was all Red Deer would need. Jack Rodewald would get one back in the third but 2-1 was the final from the Enmax Centrium. Tanner Olstad and Colton Jobke picked up assists on the goal. Matt Hewitt made 29 saves in the loss and the Pats were out shot 31-23.

Sunday the Pats were in Edmonton taking on the red hot Oil Kings. Edmonton had won 11 straight coming into the contest and are first place in the Eastern Conference with 49 points. However the Pats snapped that streak with a 6-5 thrilling victory as Jordan Weal scored with a second left in regulation on a breakaway to steal two points. The game winner was his second on the night and his third point, Colton Jobke also scored twice while Lyndon Martell and Andrew Rieder added markers. The Pats were out shot for the third time on the weekend 38-23 but Matt Hewitt stopped 33 pucks for the win, his 18th on the year. A great way to finish the unofficial halfway point of the season.

Assistant Coach Josh Dixon said last night after Jordan Weals last second goal to win it:

"We were kind of yelling from the bench eat it eat it, there was 8 seconds left and could have killed the clock and a much needed and well deserved point, would have been satisfactory at least after 60 minutes. But its unbelievable how it ended, Jordan Weal, hard to imagine a more clutch player, I mean the number of minutes he played tonight, double shifted most of the game, PP, PK, played against the top line and then to come up with that goal at the end, that's just phenomenal."

"Its always nice to win and nice to beat a team like Edmonton who have been on a real roll lately, but the most important thing and not using any excuse but to play two games in 18 hours, its a short turn around and completely different from any routines were used to. If ever there were excuses that were built in and guys could have relied on, today would have been the day. Its been a long month and a tough road trip but nobody quit. What we've really been trying to tell them as a coaching staff is that they are capable of so much more than they realize and when they dig deep and find that true potential its amazing how far they can push themselves, that was evident tonight, despite all obstacles and travel and fatigue they found it within themselves to come up with just a phenomenal performance and a huge win for our hockey team."

The Pats sit with 41 points, tied with the Saskatoon Blades. The Blades have played 2 less games so they hold the 6th spot in the East. The Pats are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and have put themselves in a good spot. They are just 8 points back of the Oil Kings for first place while they trail the Warriors by 7 for the division lead.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Brenden Taman and the Riders have made their decision on who will lead them in 2012. Corey Chamblin is the guy and I for one am excited to see what this guy can do. I do wonder why so many seem to be pissed off at this hiring, Taman deserves a pat on the back for this one and I think that Chamblin is going to bring a great new attitude. From what Corey said at the news conference he seems to be very enthusiastic and brings a hard working aggressive and disciplined approach to the game. Taman was quoted as saying he is comparable to a Mike Tomlin who is currently the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Certainly one of the best young coaches in the NFL. Rider fans we've got a young coach, just like everyone wanted. Sure its not Dave Dickenson or Mike O'Shea but no one can honestly say they know who is going to be a better head coach. I am going to trust the judgement of the people who did the interviews and listened to these guys and their plans for this team. For all the haters I hope Chamblin leads them to 4 and oh to start the year and then about half of them will shut up. The other half will be haters no matter what. Chamblin says he has the names of the guys he wants as a support staff. He did say yesterday that he is open to keeping some of the guys that are already on staff here from last season. I am interested to see who he brings in as a offensive coordinator. Chamblin was asked about a quarterbacks coach and he said that if his OC is a quarterbacks guy then there is no need for an extra positions coach but if he isn't then he would hire one. Thats good to hear and I believe that if the right guy is brought in, this offense will flourish again. Corey also said that he likes the talent on the roster here but that there is definitely some areas that need improvement, and we all know where those areas are. Like i said I am excited for this new season with Chamblin at the helm and I hope that at the very least the fans give him a chance, everyone was mad when Austin was hired and look what happened there. Here's the opening statements from yesterdays news conference.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stephenson and Volek Named to Top Prospects Game

The Regina Pats are proud to announce that both Chandler Stephenson and Dominik Volek have been named to play in the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects game on February 1st, 2012 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C. The two Pats Prospects will battle against one another with Stephenson playing for Team Orr and Volek for Team Cherry

The Pats are just one of two WHL teams that will have more than one player participating in the game with the host Kelowna Rockets being the other.

From Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Chandler Stephenson is a first round pick in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft and is having a breakout season, already eclipsing his point and goal totals from a year ago. He is ranked 7th by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau’s preseason rankings of WHL skaters and was ranked 63rd in the world according to the International Scouting Services’ preseason rankings.

From Prague, Czech Republic, Dominik Volek was selected by the Pats in the 2011 CHL Import Draft. He is just one of two players to play in every game with the Pats this season and is currently sixth in team scoring. Dominik is ranked 15th by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau’s preseason rankings of WHL skaters and was ranked 124th in the world according to the International Scouting Services’ preseason rankings.

The Pats have sent 15 players to the Home Hardware CHL/NHLTop Prospects Game over the past 16 years, including the likes of: Jason Smith (1993), Jeff Friesen (1994), Brad Stuart (1998), Barret Jackman (1999), Jordan Eberle and Colten Teubert (2008).

The 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will mark the 17th annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL draft eligible players.  The two-day event also features a skills competition and three-on-three challenge taking place on Tuesday January 31, 2012.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Team Canada Trimmed to 22

The world Junior selection camp is complete and this morning the final cuts were made. Here is the roster for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship.


Mark Visentin08/07/92Waterdown, ONNiagara   (OHL)PHX 2010
Scott Wedgewood08/14/92Brampton,    ONPlymouth (OHL)NJ 2010


Nathan Beaulieu12/05/92Strathroy, ONSaint John (QMJHL)MTL 2011
Brandon Gormley02/18/92Murray River, PEIMoncton (QMJHL)PHX 2010
Dougie Hamilton06/17/93Toronto, ONNiagara (OHL)BOS 2011
Scott Harrington03/10/93Kingston, ONLondon (OHL)PIT 2011
Ryan Murray09/27/93White City, SKEverett (WHL)2012
Jamie Oleksiak12/21/92Toronto, ONSaginaw (OHL)DAL 2011
Mark Pysyk01/11/92Sherwood Park, ABEdmonton (WHL)BUF 2010


Michael Bournival05/31/92Shawinigan, QCShawinigan (QMJHL)COL 2010^
*Brett Connolly05/02/92Prince George, BCTampa Bay (NHL)TB 2010
Brendan Gallagher06/05/92Tsawwassen, BCVancouver (WHL)MTL 2010
Freddie Hamilton01/01/92Toronto, ONNiagara (OHL)SJ 2010
*Quinton Howden01/21/92Oak Bank, MBMoose Jaw (WHL)FLA 2010
Jonathan Huberdeau06/04/93Prevost, QCSaint John (QMJHL)FLA 2011
Boone Jenner06/15/93Dorchester, ONOshawa (OHL)CBJ 2011
Tanner Pearson08/10/92Kitchener, ONBarrie (OHL)2012
Mark Scheifele03/15/93Kitchener, ONBarrie (OHL)WPG 2011
*Jaden Schwartz06/25/92Emerald Park, SKColorado College (WCHA)STL 2010
Devante Smith-Pelly06/14/92Scarborough, ONAnaheim (NHL)ANA 2010
Mark Stone05/13/92Winnipeg, MBBrandon (WHL)OTT 2010
Ryan Strome07/11/93Mississauga, ONNiagara (OHL)NYI 2011

* denotes returning player.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sask Sport Inc. Announces November Athlete of the Month Award Nominees

Bob Hudson, Saskatchewan Wheelchair Sports Association: From Nov. 12-20, Hudson competed in the 2011 Para Pan American Games in the Compound Bow Men’s Open Category. Hudson and another Canadian competitor each defeated strong opponents from the USA to advance to and face-off against one another in the gold match. In the end, Hudson brought home the silver medal. 

Vanessa Brown, Saskatchewan Amateur Wrestling Association: On Nov. 4, Vanessa competed in the Hargobind International where she won a bronze medal. Then on Nov.12, she competed in the New York Athletic Club International where she won a gold medal. On Nov. 26, she competed in the Huskie Open where she won a gold medal. Vanessa is now preparing to compete in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Winnipeg on Dec. 15.

The recipient will be named later this week.

Solomon Signs with the Riders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that they have signed non-import defensive back Graig Newman and non-import receiver Kolten Solomon to the roster. Financial details of the signings were not released.

Solomon (5’11 – 190 lbs) played junior football with the Regina Thunder. In 2011, he tallied 35 receptions for 802 yards and five touchdowns, two carries for 17 yards, 12 punt returns for 118 yards, 17 kickoff returns for 446 yards and two touchdowns. Solomon was also named a CJFL All-Canadian for the second consecutive season. The receiver attended training camp with the Riders last season before returning to the Thunder.

Newman (6’1 – 195 lbs) played the last four seasons with the Saskatoon Hilltops. In 2011, the defensive back registered 20 defensive tackles and one interception. He also tied the Canada Bowl record with three interceptions in the Hilltops’ championship win in November which earned him the title of Canadian Bowl Defensive Player of the Game. Newman attended training camp with the Riders last season and spent time on the team’s practice roster before returning to the Hilltops.

The Riders have also released the following players:
Import              K/P      Eddie Johnson
Import              DE       R.J. Roberts
Import              DB       Jeremiah Weatherspoon

Monday, December 12, 2011

Big News Today

Lots of stuff going on for a Monday, The Kansas City Chiefs have fired Todd Haley, rumors that LA Kings Head Coach Terry Murray being let go, Sidney Crosby is out indefinitely and oh yeah Ricky Ray traded to the Toronto Argonauts.

When I first saw this trade on twitter I didn't believe it. Stephen Jyles, Grant Shaw and a draft pick? Like many have said already there has to be more to this than meets the eye. Stephen Jyles isn't half the quarterback that Ray is, sure Shaw had a decent year and a draft pick is nice but this is the CFL, if you don't have a quarterback what do you have? I can answer that - a losing team. I am sure Eric Tillman will save a bunch of money in salary but at the end of the day this just doesn't make any sense to me. Already the speculation has started about the board wanting to prop up the Argos ahead of the Grey Cup next year. I'm not sure that's the case but there aren't a lot of other scenarios that make much sense. Unless of course Eric Tillman has a master plan that of course were not privy too. Who knows what will happen in the next weeks but for now I am calling this one fishy.

The Chiefs are without a Head Coach as of right now, Todd Haley has been let go by the team after falling to 5 and 8, losing 37-10 to the Jets on Sunday. Haley spent three years with the club and led them to a AFC West title last year at 10 and 6. Injuries have certainly played into the struggles this year with Matt Cassel out along with star running back Jammal Charles for the season. This was Haleys first head coaching job in the NFL and I can imagine he will get another one, whether that's as a coordinator or head coach, he will be back. The Chiefs have yet to name his replacement.

Sidney Crosby is out indefinitely with concussion like symptoms. This does not look or sound good for the NHL's best player. After missing the first 20 games of the season Sid was back for 8 games in which he looked to be back on track scoring 12 points. But a collision with teammate Chris Kunitz against Boston Last week has brought the symptoms back. Crosby finished that game and his tests all came back negative after the game but apparently after a hard skate he felt that familiar, somethings not right feeling. Now he will sit out for a while and hope that it gets better. My initial thoughts on the hit he took was that it wasn't serious, it was knee on knee and they both fell to the ice. No ones head snapped back or anything that would indicate concussion, maybe it was a different hit who knows. What I do know is that the Penguins cannot stay healthy and more importantly the NHL's best player is in jeopardy of never being the same again.

The Blue Jays have acquired outfielder Ben Fransisco from the Philadelphia Phillies today in exchange for pitcher Frank Gailey.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pats Big Weekend Ahead

The Pats will look to get over the hump so to speak tomorrow night. They are in Moose Jaws Mosaic Place taking on the Warriors who have beaten the Pats all three times this season. The struggles go back to last year as well as the Warriors won 6 of 7 matchups, the Pats only victory was in Overtime 4-3 on January 29th at the Brandt Centre. Needless to say its been a long time since Regina has won in Moose Jaw but that's not their focus in this weeks preparations. Head Coach pat Conacher said at practise today that, and I quote: "We just have to take care of our team, like we talked about the Brandon game before, lots of times we put too much emphasis on the other team, you have to understand what they do on their special teams etc. but we have to take care of what we do. We really going to work on what are the Regina Pats, when are we at our best and what do we do when were at our best. That's what were going to do today at practise and in video and talking with the players. You know what we can just control what we can control and if we go forward doing what we want to do I will be happy with the results."

It doesn't get any easier after Friday's matchup with the best team in the East division as they will head to Saskatoon to play the second place Blades. The teams have played twice so far this season with the home team winning in both games. The Blades will be a rested group on Saturday having been off since Mondays loss in Edmonton. The Blades have lost two straight overall and are 5 and 5 in their last 10 games. The Pats on the other hand will be playing their 6th game in 9 days since December the second. I asked Jordan Weal at practise today if fatigue was starting to play a factor playing so much hockey in such a short time. "Its tough, its a tough schedule, I think if we can just play hard and get as many wins as we can this month its really going to pay off for us in January because we got 11 home games and 3 away games. So that's a month when were going to get a lot of rest and get a chance to take advantage of teams."

Chandler Stephenson said today its not too bad. "We've been getting rest this week, we had yesterday off and looking to get back to practise today. Fatigue I wouldn't necessarily say that, maybe some guys are a little run down, its kind of getting cold out some guys might be getting sick but its been a battle, 3 games in three nights is a big mind changer form some guys and its definitely going to be a battle."

The third game of the weekend for the Pats will be back home on Sunday against the Kamloops Blazers, one of the best teams in the West. They lead the B.C. Division with 43 points and have won 7 straight games as of today, only the Winter Hawks have scored more goals so far this season. They play in Swift Current on Saturday before coming to Regina on Sunday. Coach Pat Conacher said today that as a team they have to play one game at a time. "Well you have to, you know they are young guys and they all look forward, you know its funny, I know its cliche but we have to take one period at a time. We have to live in the moment, live in today, we will learn from yesterday and well take care of tomorrow when it comes. All us coaches we preach that every day in practise and in games and I think the guys are hearing it. We have to take it into this weekend for sure especially with whats in front of us."

Heading into the weekend the Pats are tied for 7th in the Eastern Conference with the Hitmen and a point up on the 9th place Red Deer Rebels. These are some key games not only for their division but as they continue to fight for a playoff spot.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pats Reassign Moser

The Regina Pats have reassigned 18 year old forward, Nils Moser to the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Last season, Moser played in 41 games split between the Regina Pats and Tri-City Americans where he scored five times and picked up an assist.

After coming off surgery over the summer, Nils played in 12 games with the Pats, recording a pair of assists.
Regina Pats General Manager, Chad Lang, “Part of the process of Nils rehabilitation and full recovery is to get him more game time and readjust back to the pace of the WHL. With his added game time and continued hard work, we anticipate a return to the hockey club.”

The Pats now have 13 forwards, 8 defenceman and 2 goaltenders on their roster. Friday night, the Pats will head to Moose Jaw to take on their arch rivals in the Warriors. It’s a 7:00pm puck drop, with a 6:35 Press Box Sports Bar pregame show start on 620 CKRM.

All Right Plumbing and Heating - Regina Thunder Update

Off season workouts started yesterday for the Regina Thunder as the winter is here and preparations for next year are underway. The team may not be playing football but everyone is hard at work looking to improve this football club. I talked with Head Coach Erwin Klempner today about how things are going and he has this to say.

"Its a full go, a very busy time, we've had a lot of stuff on the go and things are going pretty good. We started our off season workouts on Tuesday with about 33 guys showing up, not the number that we wanted but theres a lot of interest and theres a lot of guys recommitting themselves through the off season and you know were getting the ball rolling on that one even before Christmas. Recruiting is going well, we've been to 5 of the 11 schools in town and were getting the word around and talking with graduating players about our program and the opportunities that they have to be on our team and how they can go about trying out for our team."

I asked Erwin if there was added pressure on the recruiting side seen as there were so many starters that graduated this year or if it was just like any other off season.

"This is like any other off season, I think we've done very well and I think the bottom line is that as we've shown throughout the year, we have tremendous depth at every position. When guys went down or whatever the case had been we had guys ready to step up and play and so this is no different other than the fact that all of them are going at the same time. Every team is losing players and this is no different, the pressure is to continue to get the best athletes that we can that we can and maintain the depth that we have. I think that is the thing were looking at right now is to try and maintain and improve the depth. That's the purpose of recruiting.

I asked about the talent that he has seen so far and if he could see some of them in camp next season.

"Well that's a tough thing but we will get a chance to start identifying and naming guys, there's just so many. They are all looking at different programs and there are a lot of them we would like to have, the other programs want them too. The point is in Saskatchewan we've got outstanding football players and like every other year we will get our fair share of those guys, who they are, right now is tough to tell. We will get a better handle on it when we have our 3 indoor practises. Were going to be going to the Moose Jaw soccer facility on January 29th. Were actually going to run a full practise on a full field and invite all players and graduating players to come out and practise with the guys and see what its like to be onour team and coaches are like. So it gives coaches a chance to evaluate the young guys, gives the players a chance to evaluate our coaches out program and our guys. I think we will have a better idea of players and that type of thing at these practises."

Will you have the same coaching staff as last season?

"We will, other than one change, we will be looking for a new offensive line coach. Andrew Sinclair is taking on a job in Calgary with an oil company and obviously wont be able to work with us. He made some great contributions as a player and a coach to our program and we really wish him well and thank him for what hes done. So we are in the process of talking to guys and looking for a new offensive line coach."

Shawn McCall will be back as Defensive Coordinator?

"Yes everyone is back, from all indications and visits I had with all the coaches at the end of the year, they are right now committing to coming back and I see them all coming back and working on keeping that continuity which is very very important."

Heres the Link to the interview I did this morning.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Change IS Comming

Commissioner Gary Bettman has the NHL Board of Governors on board for big change in the future. The new proposal would put an end to the current, 2 conference, 6 division setup and replace it with a 4 conference league. There would be 2 conferences with 8 teams in it while the other two would have 7. The first two rounds of the playoffs would be within the conference between the top four teams. Then in the third round the four conference champions would play for a chance at the Stanley Cup. This all comes as Atlanta was relocated and the Jets are currently playing in the South East which is just not realistic in terms of travel. The new unnamed conferences would look like this.

A - New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington and Carolina.

B - Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Florida.

C - Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Minnesota, Dallas and Winnipeg.

D - Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado.

The Board voted 26-4 in favor of the change and now it is subject to input from the NHLPA and it seems this will be in place by next season. The thing I like best about the move is that every team will play the teams outside their conference twice in home and home series.

I do however have some reservations. One in particular bothers me more and that is that we could see more teams with better records miss the playoffs. We could see a very strong Conference with 5 teams over 90 points on the season while another could have "playoff teams" with less than that. In the current format that wouldn't happen as often because there are just two separate conferences. With four I think the chances of a team that deserves a spot and doesn't get one are twice as likely.

While I understand that the first two rounds of the playoffs inside the conference would definitely add to rivalries; I kind of like how we get to see some match ups that don't come along very often in the current playoff format. However those can and will happen in the later rounds so not a huge deal.

Overall I think its good for the league and for some specific teams who have been dealing with serious travel times, AKA Detroit. Whats interesting is the Wings have been a top contender in the West even though the have been getting the proverbial short end of the stick. I wonder if this will make them better? I guess we will see. Columbus, Minnesota and Dallas will also be very happy with the new setup.

In the end they're is still going to be hockey, a different means to the same end, the Stanley Cup.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pats Win Two in a Row

The Pats managed to win their second straight game last night with a 2-0 win on the road in Brandon. It was the first time since 2008 that the Pats won on the road against the Wheat Kings. Matt Hewitt got his first WHL shutout stopping 33 shots in the win. Jordan Weal and Dominik Volek scored the Pats goals with assists coming from Blidstrand, Jobke, Stephenson and Klimchuk. After beating the Rebels at home the night before, the Pats have now jumped ahead of Calgary and Red Deer for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. Two big wins for the Pats after a tough road trip and then a tough loss at home Friday against the Giants. Last week Pat Conacher was talking about the need for the guys to play 60 minutes of solid hockey and not take penalties or make those mistakes that cost them some points in the last couple weeks. Those same problems cost them on Friday, it was a tie game heading onto the third and a couple key mistakes early in the period sealed it for the Giants. We definitely saw the star power of Branden Gallagher who was named the games first star. Also goaltender Adam Morrison, formerly of the Saskatoon Blades, played exceptionally when he had too though he faced a minimal number of shots. The Pats have three more key divisional games coming up this week on the road in Prince Albert tomorrow, Moose Jaw on Friday and Saskatoon on Saturday. Their next home game is Sunday against the Kamloops Blazers. Other than the Raiders those are 3 very tough teams to play and so this will be a key stretch for the Pats to gain some ground in the Division.